"I wish that there were some wonderful place In the Land of Beginning Again. Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches And all of our poor selfish grief Could be dropped like a shabby old coat at the door and never put on again." ~ Louisa Fletcher
I decided to re-post this Blog Post from January of this year..... In the search for answers and self awareness, ideas like these recirculate in my mind. Also, as the months have passed into nearly a year, the triggers of city life have become somewhat mitigated by exposure over and over.... a sort of built up "immunity" for the AS mind & soul.
I have recently been thinking about my work. And beginning to work in the new place. I have been thinking about the work I've been doing (over these many decades) lately. Thinking about "why" (which is normally a question that I do not like to ask about anything..... because there is never any real, definitive answer). And yet... I ask: Why these "scenes"? Devoid of human impact, devoid of human beings, with only tangential reference to human activity.
For as long as I can remember, one of my "goals in life" was to live far from city life. Perhaps a reaction to growing up in New York City? That would seem to be a logical reason and "answer" to THAT question of "why". But over the course of this year, with the Asperger's Syndrome (diagnosis) at the forefront of most of my thinking and self reflection, the need for respite from the stimulation of city life (now) has this other aspect. Of course I DID achieve that goal, early on in New Mexico.... living in the small, rural village of Rowe, NM. But life is like a river.... and we are like leaves floating along in the current. And that way of life gave way to "needs" and wants dictated by the floating into small pools along the river banks..... where we "land" and even will ourselves to land!!!
I was happy to move on from rural life, which is in reality, much harder than one imagines. I remember the book "The Good Life" by Helen & Scott Nearing. That book (actually two books that make up that volume) spoke to me. And as I also found out.... the simple life is not that simple! Especially as one gets older and the need for accessibility to do business (even the art business) becomes critical. The time & energy required by "the simple life" is quite a lot. Semi-rural was a good option. Over time, even urban life seemed to take on an attractive quality (in the mind).
Which brings me to the reflections upon painting, this place and today. With the events of life over the last many years, gratitude is something I also consciously try to hold. Gratitude for what is and how it came to be. Sometimes holding it is like trying to steer a car on an icy road..... knuckles white from grasping the wheel tightly, correcting and re-correcting, steering into the skid, brakes useless......on the black ice of Asperger's Syndrome.
I find myself within the city now. My "respite' comes in the form of walking my dog along the river.... which, while running through the city itself, has enough "space"and quiet- sometimes. It is the last vestige of any kind of "wild place" within the city..... I find myself dodging people still... trying to find the small "windows" of time when there will not be others walking there..... It has been decades since I lived in the city. Now, through the lens of Asperger's I know why. The AS seems to get "triggered" almost every time we are out. The people milling about, the leaf blowers, the traffic, the other dog walkers etc.... Moments when that is not the case are rare. In those moments, I have the river (and the streets) to myself. And even though this painting is not a transcription of the place itself.... it IS an evocation of that quietude and peace of those moments. It is a way for me to "hold" those rare moments. And in thinking about all of this, I realized that that is what I have been doing with this work.... creating (or re-creating) those moments..... and suddenly I realize "why" I have been doing that..... because my Asperger's mind needs it. As with all "new" situations, time and the wearing off of newness will make it less of an issue.
I wasn't going to produce Blog Posts with such a "personal" hue to them. When I look at the art market, the galleries, and even most of the artists.... I find that the very personal is not something that is "done". Perhaps presenting the work and the artist as "stable" or "professional" means sanitizing the personal from any communiques by us? I too am guilty of employing that "strategy" myself much of the time throughout the years. The idea of separating the art from the artist seems legitimate on the surface. But I think it hides what I have always found interesting and telling and even reassuring about art & artists..... their humanity. Their "human-ness".... before all the "curated" life which defines our communications now..... We have the greatest access to one another now..... and yet, the "distance" is greater between us. "Sanitized for your protection"..... as the wrappers on toilets in hotel rooms inform us.
I don't want to sanitize. Beside the actual work of the artists, writers, film-makers, musicians, composers and all the other creatives that I love and admire..... their stories, their struggles, their lives and thoughts on work and life..... connected me to them and the work. Personally, I like to "know" things.... about people.... real things...and one of the few things that seems self evident.... is that there is no light without darkness.